The long, hot days of August have always been the newspapers' silly season, and cub reporter Tara Trent gets the silliest assignments of all. This year it’s a festival of Spiritual Enlightenment in the ancient witch-town of Salem, Massachusetts.
There's a twist, though. Anonymous text messages suggest a modern day witch-hunter is on the loose -- a crackpot determined to see the witches of Salem burn in hell. Tara isn't sure if it's a hoax or for real, but one thing's for certain: things are heating up in Salem.
Her day gets even hotter when she meets Abigail Powers, a petite, hard-bodied FBI agent working on the same case. The two instantly fall for each other, enjoying a long lesson in erotic massage before turning to the burning question: Is the mad witch-hunter of Salem just a jerk who sends out misogynistic text messages, or a potential woman-killer?
Thinking about the lascivious images on the Tarot cards made Tara horny. She picked up the remote control and switched on the TV, with the intention of finding something to watch while she rubbed one out. As she clicked rapidly through the channels, she caught a fleeting glimpse of something that, a few seconds later, she realized must be a live broadcast from the festival site here in Salem.
She backtracked and found the channel again. As she’d guessed, it was a local news channel reporting on preparations for tomorrow’s event. The camera panned around the campsite, with its tiny one- and two-person tents packed tightly together. Even though the sun had now set, it was obvious from the sweaty, drained-looking faces that the atmosphere was still very hot and humid. Sitting on the bed in her air-conditioned hotel room, Tara gave a little shiver of pleasure. Camping out was a part of the festival experience she was only too happy to miss out on!
The view moved to the diverse stalls, stages and tents of the main festival area. Various preparations could be glimpsed in the background as the camera came to rest on a chunky, long-haired woman in a dark velvet dress. A caption identified her as one of the festival’s organizers.
A reporter appeared in the frame, holding a microphone. “You had five thousand people here last year, and at least that number are expected tomorrow. Are there really that many witches around in the twenty-first century?”
“We prefer the word Wiccans to witches,” the woman said. “But in any case, Wiccans are just part of the picture. This is an all-embracing Spiritual Consciousness event; a focus for enlightened truth-seekers of any and all traditions. We’re expecting Pagans, Buddhists, Shamans; followers of Tantra, Yoga, astrology ... you name it. Whatever their path, there’ll be something for them here tomorrow.”
The interview continued for several more minutes, then the reporter turned to another figure. This one was a man: someone Tara felt she’d seen on TV before, although she couldn’t recall exactly where. Then a caption flashed up identifying him as Darren Bates. She remembered him now. He was some kind of self-proclaimed “rationalist skeptic,” who always popped up to debunk anything that had a hint of mysticism or other-worldliness about it.
“Well, Darren, what do you say to that?” the interviewer asked. “I assume you’re a less than wholehearted supporter of tomorrow’s Spiritual Consciousness Festival?”
“You assume correctly.” Bates scowled at the camera... but then his natural expression was a scowl. “Witchcraft is nothing but ignorant superstition. It always has been and always will be. You can rebrand it as much as you like -- you can call it Wicca, Paganism, Spiritual Consciousness -- but that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s meaningless drivel. It’s the same with everything they’ve got on show here -- fortune telling, meditation, faith healing ... nothing but hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo.”
“Thousands would disagree with you, of course,” the reporter pointed out. “And even people who agree with you might point out that it’s simply a pleasant way of spending a hot Saturday in August -- harmless public entertainment.”
“There’s nothing harmless about witchcraft.” Bates scowled again. “It’s a menace to society; it rots people’s minds. Science is the only truth, and anything that claims otherwise is dangerously subversive.”
By this point Tara had stopped listening. Her eyes were fixed on a small figure visible in the background of the picture -- one of a dozen or so people standing listening to the interview. The object of Tara’s fascination was a petite young female, dressed in white yoga pants and matching sports bra. The gap between the two garments displayed the most perfect six-pack abs Tara had ever set eyes on. The girl was a looker, too, with delicate high cheekbones and long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail.
All too soon the news channel switched to another story. That hard-bodied vision in white remained as a vivid after-image burned into Tara’s brain. She clicked off the TV and lay back on the bed. After several seconds she realized she was masturbating vigorously. The sight of the girl with the perfect abs had made her as horny as hell.